Esso dispute drags on

THE Federal Court last week ruled for a placement of limitations on industrial action by Australian Workers’ Union and its members at Esso’s Longford gas plants.

Following the ruling, AWU state secretary Ben Davis said he could not say how long the current dispute with Esso would last.

“To be honest, it’s more like a ‘how long is a piece of string’ question,” Mr Davis said.

“We could resolve it pretty quickly in a week or two or it could drag on for months and months and months.

“Again, in order to settle, you need to be prepared, both sides need to be prepared to compromise.

“Esso’s workforce are prepared to compromise but I’m far from convinced that Esso are prepared to do what needs to be done in order to get this resolved,” he said.

Mr Davis said he met with Esso management yesterday to discuss the Esso Gippsland (Longford and Long Island) Enterprise Agreement.

“We’ll keep talking to try to resolve the outstanding matters,” Mr Davis said.

“We’ll abide by the orders issued by the Federal Court but we’re still taking industrial action offshore, at Barry Beach and Long Island Point.”

According to the unions, protected industrial action is costing Esso $2.2 million a day. Esso declined to comment on this.

An Esso spokesperson said Esso was working with those employees represented by the AWU to prevent the listed bans and stoppages from occurring and to progress work.

“Esso remains disappointed by the industrial action initiated by the unions,” the spokesperson said.

“We continue (to) seek a positive resolution to the Enterprise Agreement negotiations with our workforce.

“The full hearing will (be) held in April and it would not be appropriate to comment further while the matter remains before the courts.”

Protected industrial action at Esso’s Longford site began at 4pm last Wednesday (March 25) and will continue until a full court hearing scheduled for mid-April.